Category Archives: Places

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Beach Walk on the big screen and jellies in the water

Beach Walk DVD front and back covers. By: Robyn Ricks, Washington Sea Grant

In recognition Puget Sound Starts Here Month, Kitsap Commissioner Charlotte Garrido is sponsoring a showing of Beach Walk: A Naturalist’s Review at the Dragonfly Cinema (822 Bay Street, Port Orchard) on Thursday, May 24th at 6:30. As an added bonus, we’ll be exploring the Port of Bremerton’s Port Orchard Marina‘s sea life immediately after. As part of the Sustainable Cinema Series, this showing is offered free of charge, and donations are gratefully accepted.

Beach Walk was produced by Nancy Sefton of Unicorn Studios with participation by Washington Sea Grant and WSU Kitsap Extension. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to narrate and poke my head onto the screen a few times. It’s original intent was to be a refresher video for volunteer beach naturalists before they participate in a beach exploration with the public. However, the 35 minute film has appealed to a much broader audience, giving a flavor of the seaweeds and animals you can find on Puget Sound beaches when the tide is out.

You can preview or watch the film on YouTube in 3 parts.

  • Part 1 – 5 min, introduction and best beach behavior
  • Part 2 – 15 min, sea life of cobble/boulder beaches
  • Part 3 – 14 min, sand/mud beach life and things you can do anywhere in the watershed that protect marine habitats

After the film and a brief discussion, we’re going to head across the street to the public entrance of the Port Orchard Marina. I hadn’t been to the marina before, so I checked it out last week and found lots of sea life treasures.

In particular, I was struck by the jellies, finding about a dozen species. Many people have seen the moon jellies and even the large, red lions mane or yellow fried egg jellies. But look closely and the sea is alive with a variety of these predatory, floating, gelatinous anemone cousins.

The compilation below shows several species. From left to right, top to bottom…

  • aggregating jelly (Eutonina indicans) with it’s dangling mouth.
  • gregarious jelly (Clytia gregarium) is very similar to the aggregating. These can be so abundant the water surface is writhing with them. They also make a good meal for larger jellies.
  • eight-strand jelly (Melicertum octocostatum) has 8 large sex organs around its body. It’s a weak swimmer. Trade off for reproductive prowess?
  • red-eyed jelly (Polyorchis penicillatus) has tiny, light sensitive red spots where the tentacles meet the body. The spots help it figure out which way is up in the water.
  • sea gooseberry (Pleurobrachia bachei) has two feeding tentacles that can stretch to 8x the length of its body. Since it’s a ctenophore and not technically a jelly, it has 8 rows of tiny comb plates that wave to help it swim. In the sunlight, they make a beautiful pulsating rainbow.
  • many-ribbed jelly (Aequorea sp.) looks like a bicycle wheel. Can we rename it spoke jelly?
Opalescent nudibranch taking a slime across my hand. Photo: Jeff Adams

I also encountered several gorgeous opalescent nudibranchs (sea slugs), one of which was floating bottom up on the water’s surface (maybe looking for a new home?). I gave it a perch on my hand before putting it on the dock next to a small anemone (sorry anemone). They eat hydroids, little coral-like creatures, but may nibble the occasional anemone or sea squirt.

We may see these creatures at the Port Orchard Marina after the show, and we will certainly see others…. rain or shine. Hope to see you there. Be sure to dress for the weather and enjoy spring!

Jeff Adams is a Washington Sea Grant Marine Water Quality Specialist, affiliated with the University of Washington’s College of the Environment, and based in Bremerton. You can follow his Sea Life blog, SalishSeaLife tweets, FaceBook and video posts, send email to jaws@uw.edu or call at 360-337-4619.

Whales and bugs, snails and slugs, seaweed and salmon too

This is a plug. In part because Washington Sea Grant is a sponsor, but in larger part because this is a great opportunity not to be missed and to be encouraged into the future!

Inspired by the South Sound Science Symposium and Island County’s Sound Waters, Kitsap Beach Watchers volunteers and staff are bringing the first of such events to the residents, scientist, managers and policy makers on the West Sound (Kitsap Peninsula, though all are welcome from far and wide) – Water Courses: Connecting West Sound.

Since the registration fee includes lunch, beverages and a full day of presentations by and discussions with local and regional experts, this is a heck of a deal. The event also gives you a chance to get off the beaten path and explore historic Keyport. With over 36 speakers, Water Courses is the largest all ages water education event held on the Kitsap Peninsula. Online registration is available (www.kitsap.wsu.edu) or contact Lisa Rillie at 360-337-7157, lrillie@co.kitsap.wa.us.

Some details, speakers and topics…

Friday, October 14, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm: Naval Undersea Museum Auditorium, Keyport
The Friday symposium is a bit more technical than the Saturday series of workshops. The nine speakers for the day range in experience from Suquamish High School students (presenting work on ocean acidification and shellfish survival) to Dr. Robert Johnson (Puget Sound Partnership Science Panel member and Naval researchers). Topics are generally themed around pollution (sources, movement and prevention). $30 for the day; $22.50 if attending both; lunch included.

Saturday, October 15, 9:00 am to 3:30 pm: Keyport Community Church, Keyport
The Saturday workshops are a great way to become acquainted with some of the sea life, stream life and issues within our watershed. Plant and animal topics range from seaweed and landscaping to snails, bats and whales. Broader topics include salmon restoration, reducing pharmaceuticals in the water, understanding the fish you eat, citizen science, and farm management. There are so many great speakers and topics that deciding that you should register and attend is the easy part. Choosing only 6 of the 36 topics may prove more challenging! $25 for the day or $22.50 if attending both days; lunch included.

This is a great opportunity to learn and share about water and watershed related issues on the Kitsap Peninsula. In its first year, we hope this event will only get stronger with your participation and feedback. Hope to see you there! Jeff

Jeff Adams is a Washington Sea Grant Marine Water Quality Specialist, affiliated with the University of Washington’s College of the Environment, and based in Bremerton. You can follow his Sea Life blog, SalishSeaLife tweets and videos, email to jaws@uw.edu or call at 360-337-4619.

Windy days and low dissolved oxygen

It’s a good day to breath air in the southern Hood Canal. Once again, winds from the south push Hood Canal’s water north and leave southern Hood Canal belching  oxygen depleted water up to the surface. I blogged about it September 20th last year (From the south blows an ill wind) with some details and links that are still pertinent.

Sunday's ORCA buoy Oxygen Concentration data from Hoodsport. Graph: www.nanoos.org
Seven day oxygen concentrations at 10', 66' and 312' depth at the Hoodsport ORCA buoy. Graph: www.nanoos.org

I’ve attached ORCA (Oceanic Remote Chemical-optical Analyzer) buoy readings at Hoodsport for the last 24 hours and 7 days. The water breathers are probably a little stressed.

Amazing technology that we can all observe such a dramatic response in real time. Go make graphs of your own and explore data from other monitoring sites at NANOOS (Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems). To see Hood canal data… zoom down to Hood Canal; pick your buoy; then click a variable (Oxygen conc. [concentration], Nitrate, Chlorophyll, etc.) to see a graph. Enjoy the technology; cross your fingers for the critters.

Jeff Adams is a Washington Sea Grant Marine Water Quality Specialist, affiliated with the University of Washington’s College of the Environment, and based in Bremerton. You can follow his Sea Life blog, SalishSeaLife tweets and videos, email to jaws@uw.edu or call at 360-337-4619.

Terrific tides and Bremerton’s Lions Park

Thanks to some of the summer’s lowest tides, there’s great fun on the beaches this week. I’ll put a few events below. If you know of others, please add them as comments. I also wanted to recommend one of my favorite local beaches.

Beach goers exploring Lion's Park's broad gravel beach at low tide. Photo: Jeff Adams

The fast currents that rush through Bremerton’s Port Washington Narrows (the shallow, narrow waterway that connects Dyes Inlet to Sinclair Inlet) create excellent habitat for diverse sea life. Lion’s Park (sometimes called Lebo Field or Lebo Recreation Area) is on the north side of the Narrows and just northwest of downtown Bremerton.

I’m sure I’ll come back to this park in later blogs, but it will be particularly good viewing the next couple days while the tides are around -3.0 and the edge of the kelp bed is exposed. The City of Bremerton has also done some amazing reworking of the park to improve shoreline habitat and reduce stormwater pollution. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Tides this week…

  • 6/14 Tues; -2.9 @ 10:30am (better hurry!)
  • 6/15 Wed; -3.1 @ 11:10
  • 6/16 Thurs; -3.0 @ Noon
  • 6/17 Fri; -2.6 ~12:40pm
  • 6/18 Fri; – 1.9 ~1:15
  • 6/19 Sun; -0.9 ~2:00
Peg Tillery, WSU Kitsap Extension Beach Watcher Coordinator sporting the Kitsap Beach Naturalist hat and the logo's inspiration (purple star Pisaster ochraceus). Lion's Park, Bremerton. Photo: Jeff Adams

Beach walks and such…

Kitsap Beach Naturalists
– will join Stillwaters Environmental Center at Kingston Marina and on the beach north of the Kingston Ferry Terminal, June 18, 12:30-2:30pm (Stillwaters will be there starting at 9:am)
– Fay Bainbridge Park, Bainbridge Island, WA, June 18, Noon-2:30pm
– Scenic Beach State Park, Seabeck, WA, June18, 1:00-3:00pm

Harbor WildWatch and Shellfish Partners
– Purdy Sand Spit on the shore of Henderson Bay off of Hwy 302 in Purdy, WA, June 18, Noon-4:00pm

South Sound Beach Naturalists
– Priest Point Park, June 18, 12:30pm – 3:30pm. and at
– Burfoot and Tolmie State Parks, June 19, 1:30pm – 4:30pm

Seattle Aquarium Beach Naturalists are on a variety of east Sound Beaches
– Richmond Beach, Carkeek Park, Golden Gardens, South Alki, Lincoln Park, Seahurst and Des Moines Beach Park, June 14, 10-1; June 15, 10-2; June 16, 10-2; June 17, 10:30-2; June 18, 11:30-3; June 19, 12:30-3:30

Hope you get to enjoy some time on the shoreline! JEff

Jeff Adams is a Washington Sea Grant Marine Water Quality Specialist, affiliated with the University of Washington’s College of the Environment, and based in Bremerton. You can follow his Sea Life blog, SalishSeaLife tweets and videos, email to jaws@uw.edu or call at 360-337-4619.

Last chance for a close shave

Happy razor clammers! Kim Pham

The last opportunity of the season to collect our outer coast’s famous razor clams (Siliqua patula – Latin for Pod open since it looks like a newly germinated seed pod) is today (5/18) through Sunday (5/22). The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has a whole series of pages devoted to razor clams, including how to dig them and their relationship with domoic acid, a toxin that causes amnesic shellfish poisoning and is produced by the group of diatoms called Pseudo-nitzschia. So far, the razor clam beaches have the Department of Health OK for harvesting razors this week.

If you’re looking for a spur-of-the-moment staycation you might give this some thought. Our Salish Sea clams generally stay in one place while you rake/dig them near the surface or chase their neck down deep. Razor clams take a different approach on their beaches of deep sand. They have a specialized foot that can rapidly extend, long and pointed, straight down into the sand. Once extended, the end of the foot expands to act as an anchor. Muscles then contract and pull the entire clam deeper into the sand. You shovel, they plunge, you shovel, they plunge… the chase is on!

Jackknife clam from Foulweather Bluff preserve. Jeff Adams

You might imagine, such an approach wouldn’t work well in many Salish Sea beaches because of the mix of sand gravel and cobble that are often dominant. Hence, we fjord-folk have to travel to the open coast and bravely face the Pacific expanse to forage for these delicacies.

On the other hand, we do have a very similar-looking species, called the jackknife clam or blunt razor clam (Solen sicarius, meaning something like Pipe dagger-man, ouch!). Its shiny, oblong, beige to brown shell is similar to the razor clam, but certainly unique among Salish Sea clams. The shell of a jackknife, however, is relatively narrow and more squared off on the ends. Also, the hinge, where the two shells connect, is at one end of the shell instead of near the middle. That’s pretty unusual to see among our clams.

Partially buried jackknife clam shell, from Foulweather Bluff preserve. Jeff Adams

The jackknife clam is not often seen alive since it prefers sand and mud from the very lowest tides down to about 180′. Jackknife clams (up to 5″ long) also dig a more permanent burrow than a razor clam, whose burrow fills and empties of sand more regularly. The jackknife burrow may be 15″ deep or more and can be relatively smooth lined, particularly in substrate that’s more of a hard mud. The clam can zip quickly to the bottom when threatened. It can then dig deeper if necessary… but it’s no longer so zippy.

Summer clamming is a great time with nutritious benefits. Just keep your eyes on your regulations and limits, refill your holes and don’t forget to check the Department of Health’s marine biotoxin pages and alerts. If you head out to the Coast this week/weekend… enjoy, feel great about supporting the local economy… and may your skills be sharper than a razor. JEff

Jeff Adams is a Washington Sea Grant Marine Water Quality Specialist, affiliated with the University of Washington’s College of the Environment, and based in Bremerton. You can follow his Sea Life blog, SalishSeaLife tweets and videos, email to jaws@uw.edu or call at 360-337-4619.

Terrific Tides and Historical Harper

Harper fishing pier on the right and ferry "dolphin" on the left. The dolphin was removed in 2009 shortly after this picture was taken. Jeff Adams

Along with the amazing sea life you might encounter around the Kitsap Peninsula, the Salish Sea and beyond, I also want to periodically highlight some beaches that host our saltwater bounty.

The area of South Kitsap from the Harper pier, south into a pocket estuary is a great place to watch birds, dive, reflect on history and our shoreline fingerprint, launch a boat, and explore the beach. The area uncovered by a low tide is a real hodgepodge of public and private ownership, but the boat launch and fishing pier are readily identifiable public access points.

Harper has a history well worth noting. The fishing pier stands were the ferry system linked Kitsap to Vashon and West Seattle until the early 1960’s. Until their 2009 removal, a remnant of the ferry dock (a cluster of deteriorating creosote pilings called a dolphin) could be seen at the end of the pier.

The Harper pier is frequented by divers and anglers alike. For divers, there are even a couple wrecked boats to explore beyond the pier. The sport plumose anemones, kelp crabs, barnacles and other piling fare to enjoy. Divers also find abundant lures, lines, bottles and mobile phones lost by the piers other regular users. It’s also a great place to see birds and get a great view of the Central Puget Sound.

A pile of brick from one of the Harper Clay Products brick dump areas. Jeff Adams

A fascinating history lies on the beach near the boat launch, and just under the surface. The Harper Clay Products Company started making bricks from nearby clay in the late 1800’s (click here for some great old photos and maps). The good bricks can still be seen in Pioneer Square buildings in Seattle and in the Governor’s Mansion in Olympia. The discarded bricks, however, are abundant near the boat launch as one of the “brick dump” areas used by the factory. The bricks wind up supporting barnacles, rockweed and some other animals that live on hard surfaces, though in the areas where they’re piled deeply, they don’t do any favors for the mudflat organisms that would have been there in their absence.

A rich pocket estuary and salt marsh lies to the south of the boat launch and road. The culvert that feeds this area is the subject of restoration interest, with the intent of broadening the salt marsh habitat to its historic extent.

As for this week’s great low tides…
Our first -3 tides of the season are today and tomorrow. Excellent mid-day minus tides continue through Sunday. As a bonus, it looks like we’re even in for a few sunny days.

A layer of discarded Harper bricks can be seen on the eroded edge of the boat launch. Picklweed and grass now grow on top. Jeff Adams

5/17, -3.0 at 11:30am, Tuesday (better hurry:)
5/18, -3.2 at 12:10pm, Wednesday
5/19, -2.9 at 1:00pm, Thursday
5/20, -2.3 @ 1:40pm, Friday
5/21, -1.3 @ 2:30pm, Saturday
5/22, -0.2 @ 3:15pm, Sunday

Head out to Harper or your favorite walking, birding, shellfishing, trash cleaning, beachcombing, all around breathtaking beach to enjoy the low tides and maybe a bit of sunny and sixty for a change. Time to trade knee boots for sandals? Cheers! JEff

Jeff Adams is a Washington Sea Grant Marine Water Quality Specialist, affiliated with the University of Washington’s College of the Environment, and based in Bremerton. You can follow his Sea Life blog, SalishSeaLife tweets and videos, email to jaws@uw.edu or call at 360-337-4619.

Great weather, great low tides and great events!

Foulweather Bluff Preserve looking north across expansive eelgrass beds. Photo: Jeff Adams

The new moon in June is upon us. Accompanying it are likely the lowest daytime tides of the year. Better yet, the forecast suggests we’re in the 70’s and sunny to partly sunny this weekend. What a great time to get out to the beaches!

Some planned events for Saturday (June 12th) are included below, but you can also plan your own adventure. It varies by your location, but the approximate tides and times are…

Kitsap Beach Naturalist volunteer Stephanie Lewis-Sandy (in the hat) approaches a child to explore her beach find. Photo: Jeff Adams

Friday, -2.3 @ 10:50AM
Saturday, -2.9 @ 11:30AM
Sunday, -3.2 @ 12:15PM
Monday, -3.1 @ 1:00PM
Tuesday, -2.5 @ 1:45PM

When the tide is this low on summer days, the plants and animals are stressed by the sun, wind, and heat, so please remember to tread lightly. Watch your feet and walk instead of running, wet your fingers before touching plants and animals, don’t turn over any rocks bigger than your head, and walk around the edges of the eelgrass or kelp beds. If you’re digging clams, don’t forget to fill your holes back in (don’t want to smother the next crop!).

A a really low tide, large geoduck siphons extend well above the sandy beach surface of the Foulweather Bluff Preserve. Photo: Jeff Adams

This Saturday (June 12th) you might want to join one of the following events…

–  From 10am-1pm, join me and the Kitsap Beach Naturalist volunteers as we enjoy and explore the Foulweather Bluff Nature Preserve (Hansville).

- Beach Walk and shellfish harvest/cooking demonstrations at Twanoh State Park (Union) – led by the Puget Sound Mycological Society.

Water celebration (9am-2pm) and low-tide beach walk (late morning) at the Kingston Farmers Market – coordinated by the Stillwaters Environmental Education Center (scroll half way down the page).

A bit of gentle excavation of a cracked and raised area on the beach often revels large moon snails burrowed safely under the surface. Photo: Jeff Adams

Enjoy the beaches and feel free to send me notes, questions or images of what you experience this weekend. Cheers! JEff

Jeff Adams is a Washington Sea Grant Marine Water Quality Specialist, affiliated with the University of Washington’s College of the Ocean and Fishery Sciences, and based in Bremerton. You can follow his Sea-life blog, email to jaws@uw.edu or call at 360-337-4619.